NAEVR Disappointed in the President’s Reliance on Mandatory Funding in the FY2017 Budget Request

February 10, 2016
CONTACT: James F. Jorkasky
Executive Director
[email protected]


(Washington, D.C.) Today, the National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) issued a statement upon the President’s February 9th release of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 proposed budget and the supporting Congressional Justifications for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Eye Institute (NEI). The President requests NIH funding at $33.1 billion, an $825 million or 2.6 percent increase over FY2016, and National Eye Institute (NEI) funding at its FY2016 operating budget level of $708 million. The budget request includes mandatory funding of $1.825 billion, reflecting $1 billion of that which was previously discretionary—essentially supplanting the discretionary base—and $825 million for new and existing trans-NIH initiatives. To maintain NEI’s flat-funding at $708 million, the budget also relies on mandatory funding, reducing the NEI discretionary base to $687 million (which is what the President proposed in his FY2016 budget) and making up the difference with mandatory funding.

NAEVR Executive Director James Jorkasky stated the following:

“NAEVR is disappointed in the President’s reliance on mandatory funding in the FY2017 budget request, due to its uncertain nature and since it essentially reduces the discretionary base. We are especially concerned about the NEI budget. Although proposed to be flat-funded in FY2017 at its FY2016 operating level of $708 million, the budget essentially cuts the NEI base to $687 million and replaces the difference with mandatory funding.

NEI’s discretionary budget cannot go backwards, as it did with the devastating $36 million sequester cut in FY2013. After that action, it has taken four years for Congress to restore the NIH budget and grow it above the pre-sequester FY2012 level of $702 million—albeit minimally (0.8 percent). During that timeframe, the NEI continued to lose purchasing power due to biomedical inflation.

NAEVR is urging Congress to appropriate at least $34.5 billion for NIH and $770 million for the NEI in FY2017, a 7.5 percent increase over FY2016 for each that reflects five percent real growth above the projected 2.5 percent rate for biomedical inflation.

Current NEI funding is inadequate, as the FY2016 operational budget of $708 million is still less than 0.5 percent of the $145 billion annual cost of vision disorders-which will rise to $373 billion annually by year 2050, or $717 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. Vision disorders rank fifth highest in direct medical costs, only less than heart disease, cancers, emotional disorders, and pulmonary conditions. The United States faces a major challenge to public health-that from vision loss—especially during this ‘Decade of Vision 2010-2020’ in which the majority of the 78 million Baby Boomers will turn 65 and be at greatest risk of age-related eye disease.

The vision community looks forward to working with Congress in the FY2017 appropriations process to ensure sustained and predictable NIH/NEI funding increases to maintain the momentum of research.”

The National Alliance for Eye and Vision Research (NAEVR) is a 501(c)4 non-profit advocacy coalition comprised of 55 professional, consumer, and industry organizations involved in eye and vision research. Visit the Web site at